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Started From – Hustle Productions

Lead by A-Team duo, Joshua Lundberg and Georgia Woodward, Hustle is a company that produces all kinds of content for online media. You may know them from their acclaimed series A Shared House, which has swept awards and praise here and in the US.

We chat to the production pair about how their partnership came about and just what you need to make it in front of or behind the camera.

How did you find yourself in production?

JOSH

I cast Georgia in one of my shorts in 2014 and we worked well together in the Director-Actor dynamic. In early 2015 Georgia approached me about making something that year and we had a cup of coffee to talk over possible projects – specifically a comedy web series.
It snowballed from there, really.

GEORGIA

In 2015, I had been a working actor for around five years and never had an interest in working in production. It was an interesting time, I was feeling lost in the industry, I couldn’t see a way to work as an actor sustainably and felt limited with the parts that were available to me. Though I had no desire to work in production at this stage, I had a strong urge to speak up, to create, to lead and make my mark.

During the summer I was binging on SNL re runs from the days of Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon, which lead me to read more about them and where they started out. I was immensely inspired by the fact that, as performers majority of their lives in entertainment were working on projects they ran themselves. It became obvious that they got to where they are by creating consistently and having their say. So I met with Josh, we discussed creating work and we got started.

What does an average day look like?

JOSH

At the moment it’s working on A Shared House and lots of client work. Because we have a range of experience and ability to scale we can be doing anything from an edit to being on set, producing, Directing with a bunch of contractors. Whatever is happening, there’s always lots of e-mails, messages and phone calls – that’s kind of the only certainty.

GEORGIA

First things first, Breakfast (favourite part of the day) followed by a strong black coffee and a brief planning session for the social media for the day. Our days usually start early and finish late. When we have shows running we usually are glued to our phones (needs to be recharged at least 3 times a day), emails and attending meeting, liaising with our clients, conducting budget reports, invoices, booking locations and the list goes on.

When we don’t have shows on it’s all about actively seeking out new ventures, conducting research and ensuring our books are up to date so we’re ready to work when our next job comes in.

Why did you start your own company?

JOSH

Strictly-speaking we’re a business partnership – there’s some important differences there for anyone looking to start up and I recommend speaking with an accountant to decide your first phase.
Also for why: we work well together and having the scalability of an operating business allows us to take on projects we couldn’t do as individuals. We also have similar goals and ambitions and it’s rare to find do-ers you click with.

GEORGIA

It’s a really unique thing when you meet someone in this industry who you click with, you share a vision and attitude with. I think once you find that person you naturally seek out ways of creating more work together and hold onto each other for dear life. Josh and I share the same vision, focus and attitude to business. It made total sense for us to make that official and continue creating together. When the time came to set up Hustle Productions we had already accrued excellent employees and people we enjoyed working with – it’s exciting to give the team a name and a home to keep the drive going.

What study have you done that has equipped you as a producer?

JOSH

I have a Bachelor of Communications as well as an Advanced Diploma in Screenwriting, Producing & Directing.

GEORGIA

Zero. I fell into production and my education has been totally on the job. Since I began working full time as a producer I started to believe more and more in the power of the deep end and learning as you go. Film schools and institutions can give you all the details but I think nothing can prepare you for what it truly takes until you’re actively out there in the thick of it. For a long time, I experienced a great deal of guilt and questioned needing a degree to be working in this industry but in the last two years I have learned that what matters most and often what keeps you employed is your work ethic and ability to get the job done.

A Shared House is your main work, a critically acclaimed web series. Why did you choose online as your platform?

JOSH

I was at university studying media production, advertising and communications as some significant events occurred: Facebook Launched, YouTube launched, broadband started to really boom and the Smart Phone sprung up. By the end of my last year of university I had an iPhone 3G. I had been working for one of the founding Chaser satirists creating online content in 2007 and that reinforced the shift that was going to occur.
I went into production on my first web series, Production Company, a few months after graduating in early 2009. In 2010 I was employed as a Producer at a media company working exclusively on online content, which we monetized through sponsorships, custom production and other arrangements.

GEORGIA

The online platform is the most exciting platform to work in – it’s immediate, it’s fast and has a lot less censorship. When your starting out it gives you an incredible opportunity to make your own content, upload it and share it with the world. For up comers it’s an excellent platform to test ideas and get your name known. For us, it was never a question of working anywhere else when we started out – we didn’t need to wait for the phone to ring to get started so we jumped right now.

So you jumped aboard that Netflix wave, in the way of online distribution?

JOSH 

Online is flexible – you can have the tiniest of budget all the way up to what Netflix is doing with billions of dollars a year going into production. When you hear someone like George Lucas talking about the changes being real (a man who has either predicted or been the catalyst for seismic shifts in filmmaking) and leading us toward a world where cinema is an expensive technological show you cannot have at home I think people should listen. When you have the kind of production capacity Netflix has you should look. Internet distribution is a beautiful thing – and the breadth of what is possible in the independent world has only just started being explored.

Why comedy?

JOSH

I’ve never found sticking to a specific genre a particularly exciting prospect – I think it would get tiresome. Comedy, sci-fi, action, thriller – they all rely on tension and drama, so it’s just a different way of doing the same thing, really. A Shared House just gives me a chance to do it with wrapping that isn’t as dark as the stuff I usually feel compelled to write and direct.

GEORGIA

Like Josh, I’ve stuck to a specific genre however when we started A Shared House I was particularly eager to explore the world of comedy. Simply because I wanted to laugh more and make people laugh. Comedy also works very well online.

What skills would you look for in a production assistant?

JOSH

The skills for an assistant aren’t quite as pertinent as qualities. If you’re capable you’ll learn on the job and you’ll up skill in the process. In entry-level positions enthusiasm, interest, curiosity and an ability to work with a diverse group of people are more important. Also a tendency to ask questions rather than bottle up and worry.

GEORGIA

I hire production assistants who take intuitive action, who are extremely organised and demonstrate the ability and love of the hustle and bustle of creating.

What’s your greatest achievement as a team?

JOSH

So far I’d say going from a coffee talking about trying to do a show during a winter break to running a production business that’s involved with some wonderful clients in less than two years is a wonderful achievement.

GEORGIA

I’d have to agree with Josh, going from a couple of excited kids who wanted to make something for fun to creating a platform for us to learn and in doing so building a business. But perhaps the most magical part of the whole thing, for me, is seeing our team expand and getting people to back our projects.

Who inspires you?

JOSH

At the moment, if I limit it to the industry I’m in. I’d say low and medium-budget producers and directors getting content distributed online. It’s an exciting time to be working and it’s magnificent to see people getting their ideas on-screen using 21st Century distribution.

GEORGIA

Sorry, I have to say this, again, but…Amy Poehler. As a performer and as a businesswoman, the way she continues to take on additional roles in production and assist budding creators build successful content.

Any quotes you live by?

JOSH

I can only hope I live by these words.

“Our lives on this planet are too short. The work to be done is too great… But we can perhaps remember – even if only for a time – those those who live with us are our brothers. That they share with us the same short moment of life. That they seek – as do we – nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfilment they can.” – RFK.

GEORGIA

“Ditch the dream and be a doer” – Shonda Rhimes

How different is the freelance life, to its representation?

JOSH

Extremely. You have to appreciate the psychology of it, be very disciplined and strive to have a good understanding of the industry or industries you’re working in. It allows a flexibility that enables you to seize opportunities you generally can’t pursue when working full-time, but it’s hard work.

GEORGIA

Very different. It’s not glamorous and it defiantly doesn’t feel free. It requires a great deal of focus and organisation. You have to continue to be intuitive in terms of educating yourself on the industry and keeping up to date with changes.

What advice would you give to a newly minted graduate, wanting to follow in your footsteps?

JOSH

Get a part-time job with people who do well in the industry you want to be in. Go and learn, because your education hasn’t finished – it’s just begun. More than anything don’t let people take advantage of you. Don’t be afraid to be thankful for an experience and move onto the next one.

GEORGIA

“Ditch the dream and be a doer”.

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